Finance Ministry proposed new Airbnb fees

The new fee is intended to get more money out of the gray economy

The Ministry of Finance wants to increase municipal revenues with a new residence fee that will replace existing spa and recreation fees. It could take effect in 2020.

The fee, which would apply to short-term rentals including Airbnb and student housing, would be Kč 21 and in some cases Kč 50 per day.

It is payable not only by tourists or spa guests but also for the first two months for people living on the basis of a lease when they are not reported as having a permanent residence in the village.

Hotel operators, as well as local governments and the Finance Ministry, have long criticized people operating private accommodation services based on a computer app for not paying their fair share of taxes and fees.

The Czech Republic has seen a sharp shift of tourists going to private residences instead of hotels. Airbnb reports 11,000 owners who rent private flats in the Czech Republic.

The Finance Ministry wants to fight against the increasing number of tourists using Airbnb or other private housing instead of traditional hotels. The goal is to level the playing field among hotels, motels, boarding houses and other accommodation providers, the ministry said.

Critics also claim that services like Airbnb spoil the housing rental market since the owners of apartments prefer renting them for short periods to tourists rather than to long-term residents. In many cities, the prices to purchase housing have gone up and long-term housing has gone into short supply. Flats for sale have disappeared from the city centers in many areas.

Representatives of tenant groups and towns say that the original concept of services like Airbnb was good. People with a spare room could get some money by renting it on occasion. But it was never intended that people would buy 10 flats or even entire buildings just to rent them out online, while not paying the same fees as hotels are required to pay or meeting the same level of safety and other legal requirements.

Cities and towns have been missing out on fees that hotels would have generated. This money should go to repairing local infrastructure and other needs.

Tourists tend do more damage to the property, make noise, use excessive amounts of water due to overcrowding and cause other problems, critics add.

Airbnb operators are already required to charge fees, pay taxes and operate with a business license. The city of Prague last year launched a portal outlining the responsibilities at sdileneubytovani.praha.eu.

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